Austen mash-up readers may recognize the name of Steve Hockensmith. He’s the author of the New York Times bestseller, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls and Dreadfully Ever After.
His new book, Blarney, is deplete of any Bennet sisters and nasty unmentionables though. It’s a collection of detective/crime short stories.
I usually don’t read this genre, but since I like Hockensmith’s writing so much, I took a chance. And, have no regrets. The stories are well-written with interesting characters with a few epiphany-like endings, which I of course delight in.
I’m also a big fan of short stories in general; I love anthologies. Always have. Maybe it’s because there’s less of a commitment to make when picking-up a book of short stories; you can start anywhere you like; and jump around more freely.
The key though to a good short story is that it must be…good. Maybe better-than-good. The words have to be pithy and concise and move at a quicker pace than, say, a 70,000 word novel. You need that certain knack to make it happen. Like Kafka. (The Metamorphosis is a novella with only 42 pages; a 21,810 word count).
Blarney is a quick, fun, and humorous read. It’s full of short mysteries — with cops and robbers — and happy endings. A good number of the crimes are solved by the recurring and likable character, Larry Erie.
Erie is a street smart former police officer who has recently lost his wife and reluctantly turns to private detective work with the encouragement of his lovable and more sociable friend, Bass.
In Blarney, you’ll find crime, guns, beer, baseball and…lots of animals. If you’re looking for a trace of Jane Austen, it won’t be found. Maybe a trace of Jimmy Breslin/Ace Ventura…but no Austen.
All in all, I would read anything by Steve Hockensmith as he is simply a gifted writer and one I will continue to follow.